U.S. & World Coin News and Articles

The Different Types of U.S. Dollar Coins

Silver Dollars (1794-1873) -- The first 80 years of this denomination are filled with great rarities. The most famous coin of this era, the 1804 dollar, was actually struck in 1834.

The Flowing Hair design was issued in 1794-95, followed by the Draped Bust, Small Eagle (1795-98) and the Draped Bust, Large Eagle (1798-03). The 1804 dollar is also of the Draped Bust, Large Eagle design.

In 1836 some beautiful pattern coins called "Gobrecht dollars" were minted (1836-39), and then the Liberty Seated dollar was introduced in 1840 and continued through 1873.

While several impressive date collections have been assembled over the years, these dollars are usually collected by type due to the expense. Proofs collections usually begin with the coins from the mid-1850s.

Trade Dollars -- This fascinating series contains silver dollar-sized coins that were minted in the US but intended for trade in the Orient. They were issued from 1873 through 1878 for business purposes, then proof-only dates were struck for collectors from 1879 through 1883. At a later date the extremely rare and valuable 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars were clandestinely struck.

Proofs are usually collected of the 1873-83 issues (with the 1884 and 1885 being ignored), and business strike sets are frequently collected with "chopmarks " on them. These chopmarks were placed on the coins by merchants and others to denote ownership and/or to steal a little silver before the coin was passed to the next owner.

Morgan Dollars -- America loves the Morgan dollar! Issued from 1878 through 1904 (and again in 1921), this series rivals the Lincoln cent as the most popular in the world. While the rarity of the coins in this series ranges from ultra-common to almost impossible (depending on the condition being sought), the high demand leads to strong prices willingly paid by avid collectors.

Sets are assembled by date, by mintmark (one Morgan dollar from each of the five Mints or all of the examples from one particular Mint), by die variety, by date in proof...and on and on. Some sets are assembled with each coin being toned, other sets are filled exclusively with prooflike coins, and...as mentioned earlier, on and on. The Morgan dollar collector is versatile, inventive, and filled with dedication and perseverance.

Peace Dollars -- This set is another that has a large following of collectors. Issued from 1921 through 1935, these coins are a challenge, with many dates being weakly struck, among other problems.

A date collection comprises 24 coins from all years and Mints. The 1921 was struck in high relief, creating a one-year type coin.

Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony Dollars -- These short series are popular with collectors on a budget. Much of the attention is paid to die varieties and coins of different composition. Collecting proofs, especially pieces with cameo contrast, is also popular.

Be sure to check back next week when we explore the various gold pieces and commemoratives that were issued in the United States.

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).
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